Maha budget: Maximum city gets minimum fund support

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2016 01:14 IST
The biggest allocation the state budget dishes out is Rs90 crore, directed towards the Metro-3 project, a long ongoing project in the news for the possible environmental dangers associated with it (HT FILE)

Last month, when Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech did not mention Mumbai, many quarters in the state government were unhappy. On Friday, it was their turn to do an encore on Mumbai.

The state government’s budget, presented by finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, mentioned Mumbai, but stopped at that. The mentions were few, allocations token and amounts meagre.

For a city which has long served as the economic powerhouse of the state and is currently in need of an urgent revival, the state budget lays out little in terms of money or vision. The biggest allocation it dishes out is Rs90 crore, directed towards the Metro 3 project, a long ongoing project in the news for the possible environmental dangers associated with it.

The budget announced an allocation of Rs40 crore for an elevated road linking Bhiwandi-Kalyan-Shilphata. This, again, is not a new project, but one which the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has started working on for some time now.

The other small measure it announced was the revamp of Sassoon Dock, critical for its role in the trade of sea food in the city. This, too, is insignificant, considering the Centre had already announced a plan for it in 2014.

While the budget doesn’t have any Mumbai-specific outlays, there are a few moves, which will benefit a clutch of cities, including Mumbai. For instance, the state’s decision to start a new scheme for an all-women’s bus service in several major cities will lead to a similar bus service in the city. Similarly, the city will gain from the state’s allocation of Rs350 crore for closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in different cities.

While Mumbai hasn’t gotten much from the budget, it seems the city, too, has disappointed the state. A closer look at the state’s account books reveals how the housing and the urban development department had to drastically cut down their revenue expectations.

This was because two key sources -- the premium for additional floor space index (FSI) in slum rehabilitation schemes and general redevelopment schemes saw a massive dip, owing to the slump in the real estate market. Between the two, the state’s revenue saw a dip of more than Rs5,000 crore, possibly upsetting many of the state’s plans.

“The complete absence of Mumbai in the budget is very disappointing. There should have been a focus on tourism and infrastructure development. In fact, the state could have been innovative and brought projects which could have not just helped people but also brought in more revenue to the coffers,” said city Congress MLA Amin Patel.

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